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The death of god, the mission of contemporary psychology, and me - holiness


The question, "Is God Dead?", first entered my consciousness when I was ten or eleven years old. I saw it on the cover of a Life magazine, and it's lingered in my mind ever since. At the time, though, I wasn't too afraid with His likely demise. I had beautiful much gritty that God lived exclusive each of us. No affair how hard I tried, I hadn't been able to find God in the cool rituals of the Protestant faith. Instinctively, I knew God wasn't dead, He was just thrashing in each of us, ahead of you to be discovered.

I became attracted in Freud in high instruct and entered seminary as a psychology major. After quite a few years studying psychology, I underwent an existential crisis: I couldn't bear the accepted wisdom of my forthcoming career as a psychologist consisting of endlessly instructing strangers about how to live their lives. It would be too boring to endure. So, I transferred to art instruct (a Nietzchian choice, I now see). For years, the ask languished in the back of my brain: "Is God dead?" Or was the idea only fair-haired newspaper writing or intellectual coffeehouse chatter? But all this credentials is bringing me ahead of myself.

It wasn't until last month that I as a final point academic God's death was first announced by and perchance candidly attributable to the philosopher Frederic Nietzsche. Only now am I creation to be au fait with the gargantuan bearing of those three diminutive words.

As a newly-renewed psychology major, I am fascinated by Nietzsche's bold declarative question, "Who among philosophers already me has been called a psychologist at all?" (Nietzsche, 16), and how his judgment anticipate, influence, and in fact, characterize contemporary psychology. Therefore, in this essay, I am attempting to connect the death of God with the mission of contemporary psychology, and to offer some of my own opinion and experiences. If I have added a clearly individual spin to the proceedings, forgive me; I consider Nietzsche would have established the voice of not public experience.

"Whither is God" he cried. "I shall tell you. We have killed him-you and I. All of us are his murderers" (Nietzsche, 95). Thus, in 1882, Nietzsche produced a madman who announced the end of Christian tradition and in so doing, the creation of avant-garde life. In conclusion, the madman proclaims to the listening crowd: "This deed is still more cool from them than the most cool stars-and yet they have done it themselves" (Nietzsche, 96).

Nietzsche could be faulty for an atheist, but no man can kill a little he doesn't have faith in in. Even if man could kill God, God is a Supreme Being who possesses the power to bring back to life Himself. Nietzsche's point, then, seems to be that mankind cannot annihilate God for all eternity, but that men can discard God from their lives. The death of God, critical even if it may be, is a metaphor.

The images flooding my mind are these: Man has murdered God, been tried and found guilty, and is presently plateful a life condemn not including Him. God first threw us out of the Garden, now we're throwing him out of the tarmac jungle. We have replaced earliest sin for man-made guilt, anxiety, and despair. The actuality of God's death may be too much for man, a mere mortal (and now, more mortal than ever), to bear, as also is the lack of denotation in life. But every metaphor and concern arising from the earliest theme begs the question, "God is dead, long live . . . ?"

* * * * *

Nietzsche qualifies his metaphor and hints at some answers. First, he states that " . . . the belief in the Christian God has ceased to be believable" (Nietzsche, 447). Second, he describes man's life after God's death:

"Indeed, philosophers and 'free spirits' feel as if a new dawn were shining on us when we catch the report that 'the old god is dead'; our heart overflows with gratitude, amazement, anticipation, expectation. At last the horizon appears free again to us, even contracted that it is not bright, at last our ships may venture out again, venture out to face any danger; all the daring of the lover of awareness is allowable again; the sea, our sea, lies open again; maybe there has never yet been such an 'open sea' (448).

The open sea is our psyche. But already I befit too amiable in my interpretation, I must jog your memory in my opinion that the death of God littered and grief-stricken the philosopher. He sailed on all through dark and into customarily unexplored waters to explore the human mind and human behavior-in a word, psychology. With clairvoyant references to a choice of Freudian concepts, Nietzsche discusses sublimation, instinct, repression, guilt, and ego. Still, we may worry that he's left us after and half-jokingly wonder, "Is there nobody sacred anymore?" Nietzsche would answer, "No. God is dead, long live psychology. "

Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi neatly summarizes the correlation among Nietzsche, 'the first psychologist,' and contemporary psychology:

"After all, at least since Nietzsche concluded that God was dead, philosophers and communal scientists have been busy demonstrating that life has no purpose, that attempt and impersonal army rule our fate, and that all morals are qualified and hence arbitrary. It is true that life has no meaning, if by that we mean a supreme goal built into the fabric of characteristics and human experience, a goal that is valid for every individual. But it does not be a consequence that life cannot be given meaning" (215).

Just as there was "no psychology beforehand him," it is approvingly disbelieving there could have been any devoid of Nietzsche. Csikszentmihalyi not only accepts Nietzsche's premise that life is meaningless, he also offers this insight on the link among the "first psychologist" and the role of avant-garde psychology:

"If ethics and institutions no longer give as compassionate a framework as they once did, each character must use at all tools are free to carve out a meaningful, enjoyable life. One of the most central tools in this quest is psychology" (16).

The main occupation of current psychology, then, is to admit our instincts, repressions, guilt, and the like, and to ask, "How can mankind be improved?" Contemporary psychology accepts God's death, doesn't mourn His passing, and goes on to acknowledge Nietzsche's commonsensical connotation of not public conscientiousness ("All of us are his murderers") and the "superman" who seeks complete not public transcendence. Contemporary man can depend on himself and only himself for rewards and satisfaction, and his inner quest requires great discipline. Agony may still communicate gist to life, as Nietzsche postulated (453), but we are secular victims, not devout martyrs or Greek tragic heroes. Besides, we don't have the time; direct delight is our goal, if it can be said to be a goal or if we have any goals at all.

* * * * *

The end for current man is to find determination in his life. He must re-create himself in his (small "h" intended) own image. Charismatic and repellent, extraordinary and overwhelming, our task may be more than we can bear. We have our doubts about ourselves and are also suspicious of science; the knowledge of psychology may be more an art than a science. Nietzsche might have predicted our misgivings. He might also have barbed out that, in the end, we are human, all too human, and conceivably we cannot exceed ourselves or discipline exclusive of God.

By looking at the death of God, the mission of current psychology, and my feelings about both, I had hoped to reach some authoritative conclusions. I have not. I have, however, not compulsory a digit of questions that will carry on to activity me as a fledging environmental psychologist. In summary, I have only this to say: If God is truly dead, may He rest in peace.


Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Portable Nietzsche. Ed. and trans. Walter Kaufmann. 1954. New York: Penguin, 1982.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper & Row, 1990.


For more than two decades, P J Smith has been motivated to write and characters to motivate. Today, she's the motivational word spinner in residence at http://www. wordbrains. com. Her work has also been in print in newspapers and magazines, and seen on communal television. She's a learner of psychology, Reconnective Therapy, Flower of Life -- and life. Let P J inspire and notify your audience. Find out more at http://www. wordbrains. com.


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